Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Iris tricked me last night. She had me totally convinced she was in labor; so convinced, I called my sister (who wanted to see goats being born) and made her drive 25 miles. So convinced, in fact, that I gloved up and went in (more on that later). But she wasn't.
I've seen three goats give birth now, and they all acted pretty much the same when they went into labor: they nickered and looked at their bellies; they got up and laid down repeatedly; they yawned and ground their teeth; they stretched and held their tails in a particular, distinctive fashion. Iris was doing all of those things. Her udder was full and her tail-root was raised.
But after four hours, nothing had changed. That's a very long time in goat-labor. I called the vet, and he said I should do an internal exam to see if her cervix was closed (good) or open (bad). If closed, we could wait because true labor hadn't started yet. If open, we had an emergency, because it meant that the babies were all tangled up and unable to progress down the birth canal.
Well, I wasn't too thrilled, but I did it. We got Iris on the stanchion and fed her some grain to keep her happy - well, distracted, anyway - while I slowly and with plenty of lubrication tried to find out what was going on. But I couldn't get my hand in. Her vagina was stretchy and accommodating (that ought to get me a few hits), but the bones of her pelvis were immobile and I couldn't get past them to the cervix. I figured this had to mean that she wasn't really in labor yet and probably not even close. Long before labor starts, the ligaments and tendons in the whole area become extremely relaxed, and my hand should have slipped in like a carrot into a washtub. So I washed up and went inside to sleep.
Me with my hand halfway up a goat
Well, no harm done. iris didn't really care one way or the other, and she's fine today. I kind of expected to go out this morning and find babies on the ground, but no. She probably won't have them for another week. Aaargh!
My friend and fellow goat-owner Ashley took the twins today to de-bud them. That means to apply a red hot iron to their tender little baby heads until the horn buds are totally cauterized. It's a procedure way beyond my comfort zone - unlike doing a vaginal exam on a goat, I guess. Anyway, she brought them back this afternoon looking totally ridiculous with their little shaved heads and silver-painted spots, but they are fine. They are jumping around as though nothing happened. However, she informed me that they have lice. Chicken lice, to be precise.
Ewww. There's nothing on earth grosser than lice, as far as I'm concerned. I carefully inspected them, and it's true. They do have lice. Not the kind that can hop on people, obviously, but lice nonetheless. I didn't check a chicken, so I don't know for sure if they are chicken lice or not. I'm not sure what kind of treatment they need, or how I might treat 30 chickens if they are in fact chicken lice. Got to google that.
This picture of the pony is just for fun; she doesn't actually have lice, but it looks like she's itchy.